by Barbara Cutrell
This is our first look at our Dreadnaught Senior football players this year. Our first senior we will spotlight is Jalen Stevenson #96 defensive lineman. The, always dominating defense of the Dreadnaughts is known well by most opposing offenses. Jalen Stevenson, #96 is one of those defensive players that have been very effective at making sure opposing quarterbacks spend a lot of time on the new turf.
Last year as a junior defensive lineman, Jalen broke Chauncey Clark’s record of 17 quarterback sacks in one season with 25 sacks in the 2011 season. Jalen says he is proud of his accomplishment because there have been so many great Dreadnaught players before him and Dreadnaught football Hall of Famer, Chauncey Clark’s record lasted 12 years. He feels honored to be in the same category as Chauncey.
Like many Dreadnaughts before him, being a Naught football player is a family tradition. His father was a Dreadnaught player as was an older cousin. Offensive line coach John Flath thinks that strong family tradition of generations playing Dreadnaught football is one of the team’s strengths. It certainly has been an asset the last 3 years
Tradition is important to Jalen. He says that what is important to him is maintaining that long record of winning at Lakeland football. Being a senior Dreadnaught football player carries big responsibilities, but Jalen sees it as a reward for all his hard work. And he has worked hard –last year his number 96 could be seen wherever the ball was. This season he is there again making the plays that keep opponents out of our end zone.
What Jalen likes best about his coach, Dan Talbot, Asst. Head Coach and defensive line coach, is “he always pushes me, in practice and games, to do better”. He says his coaches have helped him become a better player by demanding his best at practice and in games. He also says that they not only make him a better player, they are there for him if he is having problems outside of football. He says “if I need someone to talk to, I can call them or send a text”. Dreadnaught football is a “family ”.
Jalen plans to go to college and play football after graduation from Lakeland High School. Right now he has an offer from Indiana, but he is leaving his options open. He also says he would like to be a coach someday and may return to coach football and basketball at Lakeland High School. For the time being Jalen is busy keeping that winning tradition alive at Bryant Stadium.
Jalen loves playing football at Bryant Stadium because as he says “there is no stadium like it”. The bus ride from Lakeland High School to Bryant Stadium is a part of what all Dreadnaughts do to prepare to enter Bryant Stadium for the game, with bells ringing, horns blasting and sirens blaring, just like their fathers before them and hopefully their sons after them. Like this year’s player T-shirt says “Tradition Never Graduates”.